Thursday, July 31, 2014

'Resident Evil Deck Building Game' (Game Review)

After playing Thunderstone recently, I've gotten way into deck building games.  There's something about coupling the high strategy play of a nerdy card game with the geek-brain aphrodisiacs of statistics and probability that gets my metaphorical rocks off.  If you are the sort of person whose favorite part about Magic the Gathering was building a new deck, these games are for you.  Resident Evil is no exception.

To summarize the gameplay: Everyone starts with the same basic set of cards and currency.  Each turn you can spend currency to buy better cards that then go into your deck and make it (hopefully) statistically more likely to succeed. On turns where your hand is good enough, you make a run at the mansion and hopefully kill some monsters.  On these monsters are the victory points that get totaled at the end of the game leading to victory.

Where these deck building games really take flight is in the functional cards that structure your strategy for your whole deck.  Should you spend your currency on the card that gives you a benefit for having a lot of cards in your deck or the one that gives you benefit for a lot of cards in your discard pile?  Also, these cards are finite, so should you stick with your strategy or buy up the cards that your opponent is trying to get to screw his strategy over?

I'm in love with this genre.  Discovering it feels like the first time I heard punk rock as an angst-rattled, teenage pastor's kid and suddenly life made sense and I had purpose. What does the horror aesthetic of Resident Evil bring to the table that can't be found in games like Thunderstone? Well, oddly enough, unlike the Resident Evil games of the PS1 era that required slow, calculated gameplay, this card game feels more quick and arcade style.  Honestly, going by pace alone, it's more akin to House of the Dead than Resident Evil.

That said, nerds of the franchise have plenty to sink their teeth into.  Each of the player characters from the series have character cards with appropriate strengths and weaknesses that alter play.  The mansion is populated with monsters any fan will recognize.  The functional items, such as healing herbs, are also identical.  I was just sad that the infamous typewriter ribbon wasn't somehow incorporated, although how a saving mechanic would translate to in a card game is anybody's guess.

If you are a fan of Resident Evil and table top gaming, you and your friends need to give this one a try.  It easily killed a Midwest evening for me and my buddy and we are planning on that happening again.  If nothing else, it's another way to take Jill Valentine, the master of unlocking, through the horrors of the Umbrella Mansion while you enjoy taking out T-Virus afflicted baddies.

Grade: A

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